Sometimes Leaders Need to Shut Down to Focus In
Can we be real? I get angry every time I read in the news, on a blog, or talk to a friend to find out another pastor or church leader has gone down in flames.
In my work, I get to talk to many church leaders... some of them frazzled and hanging on by a thread. Some are just stressed. Some have been beaten to a pulp by church politics. Others have been burning their candle at both ends for so long that they've made it to the middle and there is seemingly nothing left.
Why do pastors flame out?
What safeguards should you take NOW so that you don't become this person LATER?
This past week I've been reading a book entitled "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World."
This quote from the book stopped me dead in my tracks:
Many leaders have "lost the ability to process and make sense of their emotions, or to reflect on who they are and what really matters, or to build strong relationships, or even to just allow their brains time to power down their critical social circuits, which are not meant to be used constantly, and to redirect that energy to other important cognitive housekeeping tasks. We shouldn’t be surprised that these absences lead to malfunctions."
That's a good way to put it.
But when you're a church leader, malfunctions, when fully played out, can mean losing your current livelihood, your career, your family, and your future.
Those are pretty big stakes.
So... what do you do TODAY so that you don't lose everything TOMORROW?
That's not an easy question to answer. There are many variables. But here's a place to start this morning. It will take you three hours this week.
I hear you... "I don't have three hours".
Yes you do.
Do it. It's that important.
Ready... here we go...
1. Write one hour into your calendar this week. Make an appointment with yourself to reflect.
When was the last time that you shut everything down and spent some time alone? Listening to your own thoughts? Praying intently to God and taking the time to listen for his response? What is in your spirit? What about you do you need to change? What has been getting out of control? Identify and jot down some small things you can do this week to get back on track.
2. Write one hour into your calendar this week to relax.
What is one thing that you like to do that you haven't done in what seems like forever? Write it into your calendar for this week. Just one hour. Maybe it's time to read the latest John Grisham novel. Maybe you need to take a hike at your favorite local park. Do it. Take time to relax. It will do you a world of good.
3. Write one hour into your calendar this week to spend with your spouse.
Do something spontaneous. Surprise your spouse with one hour of something the he/she loves to do (if you're a guy, that might even mean taking an hour in the middle of the day to take her to Target). Make your marital relationship a priority.
Listen... I'm becoming increasingly convinced that pastors that flame out don't take time to reflect, repair, and replenish.
Three short hours this week (and really, every week) will help you stop the downward spiral many leaders find themselves in.
PS - I'd love to hear how your three-hour experiment worked for you this week. What did you learn? How did you spend your time? Was this experiment worth the three hours of time invested? Let me know your experience by sending an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PPS - Perhaps part of your stress right now is filling your team with great staff. Maybe you've had a recent resignation or termination. Finding staff can be stressful, but we can help take some of the pain out of the process for you. Let's chat about how we might be able to help...